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THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: PROMOTING HUMAN RIGHTS
December 6, 2000
Promoting human rights at home and abroad has been a central policy
objective of the Clinton Administration. President Clinton's leadership
has contributed to the growth of democracy and human rights worldwide.
The Clinton Administration:
Advancing Democracy Worldwide
- Led the successful international effort to create the Office of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
- Issued an Executive Order strengthening implementation of human rights
treaties, signed into law the Torture Victims Relief Act, and
substantially increased our annual contribution to the United Nations
fund for torture victims.
- Helped secure China's signature of the International Covenants on Civil
and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and
vigorously pressed for progress on prisoner releases, political rights,
religious freedom and the rule of law in the PRC.
- Cosponsored resolutions at the United Nations Human Rights Commission
calling on China, Cuba, Russia, Sudan, Iran, Iraq and the countries of
the former Yugoslavia, among others, to improve human rights practices.
Bringing War Criminals to Justice
- Led effort on the Dayton Agreement to end the war in Bosnia, led a
successful multilateral effort to reverse the ?ethnic cleansing? in
Kosovo, and successfully aided the Serbian democratic movement in
bringing an end to the regime of Slobodan Milosevic.
- Pressed for and consistently supported the democratic transition in
Indonesia, as well as East Timor's historic move toward independence.
Led an international coalition to restore the elected Government of
Haiti and promoted free and fair elections throughout the Americas where
every country but one - Cuba - is now democratic.
- Supported peace and the disarmament processes, provided support for
free and fair elections, and gave critical assistance to historic
- Continues to aid democracy advocates and pressure authoritarian
governments around the world.
- Co-founded the Community of Democracies, a global alliance of democratic
Supporting Labor Rights and the Most Vulnerable Victims of Abuses
- Led the effort to establish and is the biggest contributor to the
International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
Appointed the first Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues and
established an early warning system to focus intelligence resources on
and alert policy makers to situations that could potentially lead to
genocide or mass atrocities.
Promoting Religious Freedom Abroad
- Worked with corporations and non-governmental organizations through the
"No Sweat Initiative" to develop voluntary ethical codes of conduct to
prevent the importation of products made in sweatshop conditions.
Worked to combat child labor by contributing $30 million annually to the
International Labor Organization's International Program on the
Elimination of Child Labor.
- Signed and ratified the International Labor Organization Convention on
the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in December 1999.
President Clinton signed the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of
Children in Armed Combat in June 2000.
- Led a concerted effort to combat trafficking in women and children.
Proposed and successfully negotiated a UN protocol to combat trafficking
in persons, to be signed next week, which, for the first time, will
require countries to criminalize trafficking and will provide a
framework for enhanced protection of and assistance to victims. The
President also signed into law the Victims of Trafficking and Violence
Protection Act of 2000.
- Made religious freedom an integral part of its foreign policy, including
by appointing the first-ever Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom
- Signed the International Religious Freedom Act, codifying many of the
additional steps the Clinton Administration had taken on religious
freedom, including the appointment the first Ambassador-at-Large for
International Religious Freedom.
- Expanded reporting on the religious freedom in every country and
designated Afghanistan, Burma, China, Iran, Iraq, Sudan and the
Milosevic regime in Serbia as countries of particular concern for having
engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious
Promoting Human Rights at Home
- Assisted international refugees by reforming the asylum adjudication
process, resulting in more expeditious granting of meritorious claims
and fewer fraudulent ones.
- Advocated immigration legislation that addressed the circumstances of
asylum seekers with longstanding ties to the United States from Central
America (Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act of 1997) and Haiti
(Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998), and then promulgated
regulations to ameliorate disparities among nationalities covered by
- Issued new guidelines for the adjudication of asylum claims by women and
children and adopted comprehensive procedures to claimants from being
returned to face torture. In addition, the United States has enhanced
the rescue component of its refugee resettlement program, including
increased resettlement efforts for refugees from Africa and the Near
East, and continues to be the world?s most generous haven for refugees.
# # #
- Fought for and won passage of the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement
Act, which proposed to increase penalties for hate crime as part of the
1994 Crime Bill.
- Worked to end racial profiling by directing cabinet agencies to collect
data on the race, ethnicity and gender of individuals subject to certain
stops by federal law enforcement to help determine where and when racial
- Signed into law in 1994 the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), landmark
legislation to combat violence against women, and this year, worked
closely with Congress to reauthorize it.
- Fought to protect the rights of all Americans, increasing funding for
civil rights enforcement from $47 million in 1992 to $82 million in
- Ordered a comprehensive review of federal affirmative action programs,
which concluded that affirmative action is still an effective and
important tool to expand educational and economic opportunity to all
- Focused the nation?s attention and resources to help stop the rash of
church burnings across the country, creating the National Church Arson
Task Force in 1995 to investigate these crimes, prosecute those
responsible and speed the rebuilding process.
- Took action to ensure fairness and equal participation in American
society for legal immigrants. In 1997 and 1998, restored disability,
health and nutritional benefits for certain legal immigrants.
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